Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COUTHIE, COOTHIE, Cothie, Coudy, Cowdie, Cuthie, adj. The suff. -ie or -y is used indiscriminately with all forms. The adj. is also used adverbially, and the adv. couthiely, coothiely, etc., is found in all the senses of the adj. [′kuθi Sc., but Ags. + ′kɔθ, ′kudi, ′kʌudi]

1. Of persons or personal qualities: (1) Agreeable, sociable, friendly, sympathetic. Known to Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Ags.17, Fif.13, Slg.3, Edb.1 1940. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 201:
Heal be your Heart, gay couthy Carle, Lang may ye help to toom a Barrel.
Abd. 1929 Mains and Hilly in Abd. Weekly Jnl. (21 Feb.) 6/4:
Gin the lassie didna wint 'im she micht 'a' latten 'im ken in a mair kin'ly, coothie fashion nor that.
em.Sc. (a) 1895 “Ian Maclaren” Days of Auld Langsyne 285:
A couthie wumman keeps the door.
Ayr. 1824 Galt Rothelan I. ii. x.:
The magistrate and the chieftain were well known to each other, and had often been couthy together.
w.Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 145:
“What struck me mair than ocht else,” she continued, “was her couthie, affable mainner.”

†(2) Prosperous, in comfortable circumstances. Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 146:
I'm heir to a' my father's store; Fouks ca' me couthie fellow, O; But waes my heart I'll e'en be poor, If I'm deprived of Nelly, O.

2. Of things or places: (1) Comfortable, snug, neat (Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Lnk.13, Kcb.1 1940). ne.Sc. 1883–86 D. Grant Chrons. of Keckleton (1888) 10:
Folks warna slack to say that I took him for the sake o' a couthie doonsit, but that wisna the case.
Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters 253:
A cothie, weel-furnished house.
Edb. 1915 J. Fergus The Sodger, etc. (1916) 29:
Nae coothy cots wi' white-washed wa's weel cover'd in wi' theek.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 35:
Sae he left the bierdly biggin' and his couthy bed o' cauff.
Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 68:
A carle cam o'er Davie's lan', A hazle kent into his han', Wi' couthie cleeding.

(2) Pleasant, agreeable (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Slg.3 1940). Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 124:
I mysell Kend nought of a' this strange, but cuthie tale.
Ags. 1891 J. M. Barrie Little Minister xxxi.:
“It's setting to rain.” . . . “Ay,” said Tosh, eagerly, “but will it be a saft, cowdie sweet ding-on?”
m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet of Barns iv. ii.:
I can weel say that I ken naucht sae awfu' and sae kindly, sae couthy and bonny and hamely . . . as juist thae green hills and muirs.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 257:
The sternies, blinkin' bonnie, tell the couthie hour is nigh, When kye come croonin' to the loan.

3. “With a negative prefixed, it denotes what is supposed to refer to the invisible world. Any thing accounted ominous of evil, or of approaching death, is said to be no coudy. The term is also applied to a dreary place which fancy might suppose to be haunted” (Ags. 1808 Jam.). Cf. similar use of Canny, adj., 3. Ags. 1855 A. Douglas Hist. of Ferryden 15:
Gude keeps a' frae seein' unearthly sights — they're nae coothie!

[Cf. Mid.Eng. cuði, known, familiar (Stratmann). For further etym., see Couth, adj. and n.]

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"Couthie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Nov 2021 <>



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